Hundreds arrested in election protests

MINSK, Belarus, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- Police in Belarus arrested hundreds of demonstrators, including presidential candidates, who protested presidential election results, observers said Monday.

Witnesses said dozens of protesters were injured in clashes after being beaten with batons

Seven presidential candidates were arrested as they protested the results of Sunday's elections in which incumbent Alexander Lukashenko was declared the winner, the BBC reported.

Official results announced Monday gave Lukashenko 79.7 percent of the vote.

Several hundred people were detained when police broke up a demonstration involving at least 10,000 anti-Lukashenko protesters in Minsk, police spokesman Konstantin Shalkevich said. Demonstrators tried to storm a government building but were turned back by riot police.

Reports indicate seven of the nine presidential candidates were among those arrested, the BBC said. Witnesses said opposition candidate Vladimir Neklyaev was removed from a hospital where he was being treated after having been beaten when police broke up a rally by some of his supporters.

The U.S. Embassy in Minsk said Washington condemned actions against opposition supporters -- saying security forces used "excessive force" -- and called on authorities in Minsk to exercise restraint.


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